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Discussion Starter #1
This thread led to patmiller very kindly lending me his 1972 Berg Larsen 100/0 mouthpiece. Compared with my Meyer 5M, it's been a revelation so I thought I'd jot some notes about the differences between the two. This is more "relative beginner gets to play a serious mouthpiece for the first time" than any kind of skilled comparison so maybe I haven't put it in quite the right subforum. No doubt a friendly mod will move it if that's the case.

The background is that I've been playing for a bit over 3 years, tenor for a bit over 2. I have a Meyer 5M on alto that I really like, so when a member here was selling a tenor Meyer 5M for a fraction of what I paid for the alto piece, I bought it. The alto Meyer was new, but the price difference also relates to the absurdly high cost of mouthpieces in Australia. I've been fairly happy with the tenor Meyer but vague discontent has been creeping in.

When I first tried the Berg, I was startled - in a good way - but thought the experiment was likely to be shortlived. It was a struggle to get the low register out and playing it at all was quite tiring. However, I remembered what I'd read on SOTW about playing pieces with a wider tip opening and dug out a softer reed (I use a Gonzalez 3.0 with the Meyer, managed to find a 2.5 to try with the Berg). The difference was dramatic even with a half strength change in reed strength - with the 2.5 I can play the whole range of the horn without difficulty. I can play the overtones as well as with the Meyer (my best effort so far is Bb3 with Bb1 fingering) and the only altissimo note I can play on tenor (G3) comes out a little more easily on the Berg, is more stable and just sounds better.

Mind you, most notes sound better on the Berg. The difference is most pronounced in the upper register - when I'd read people descibing a sound as "focused" I had previously had no idea what they were talking about - now I do. There's an intensity to the sound that makes the Meyer sound dull and muddy by comparison. Notes seem to be easier to sustain at an even tone as well. The only slight edge the Meyer has is warmth in the lower register - I don't think the sound I'm getting of the Berg is all that warm. Pat uses the Berg for rock and it's easy to see why - you could really scream with this piece.

I've only spent maybe a couple of hours on the Berg so far. I still find it tiring to play: part of this is probably because it is smaller than the Meyer so I have to keep my mouth a bit tighter round it to get a secure seal, but I'm sure the wider tip is still an issue. Haven't had a chance to pick up a 2.0 reed yet, but it might be worth giving that a go.

So: the Berg is obviously superior to the Meyer in almost all respects. I love playing the upper register with it, especially. Is it my dream mouthpiece? Probably not - the tenor's appeal for me is principally that warm, rich lower register. But it's really opened my eyes to what a mouthpiece can be. I want to start exploring the possibilities.

This could get expensive...
 

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Going from a meyer 5m to a .100 Berg is a BIG step in tip openings. (allthough it's a fairly medium opening)
Like goin to a meyer 9 according to most comparison charts.
That would explain you finding it tiring to play.
And a Berg 0 has the highest of all baffles in the Berg spectrum, not exactly suitable for a warm rich lower register.
A Berg a bit less open like .90 with a 2 or 3 chamber is totally different, maybe a bit more what you're looking for.
There are numerous other possibillities as well to get a warm lower regsiter and still a focussed sound. The Phil-tone mouthpiece for example is focussed and still rich in the lower register. And comes with a quality facing . You can order any tip opening you like.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Going from a meyer 5m to a .100 Berg is a BIG step in tip openings. (allthough it's a fairly medium opening)
Like goin to a meyer 9 according to most comparison charts.
That would explain you finding it tiring to play.
And a Berg 0 has the highest of all baffles in the Berg spectrum, not exactly suitable for a warm rich lower register.
A Berg a bit less open like .90 with a 2 or 3 chamber is totally different, maybe a bit more what you're looking for.
There are numerous other possibillities as well to get a warm lower regsiter and still a focussed sound. The Phil-tone mouthpiece for example is focussed and still rich in the lower register. And comes with a quality facing . You can order any tip opening you like.
Crumbs, I'm surprised I can play it at all if the jump is that big. Patrick was chucking me in at the deep end!

Thanks for the Phil-tone suggestion - I'd actually been thinking about this because people say good things about them and the prices seem very reasonable.

Curly..I'm kinda worried I may be following you down a path here...
 

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Been down a similar path. Now im back on a 6*... My intonation is better, my tone is better and I play better. Make sure you record yourself and critically evaluate the results, volume is not good tone. It took me too long to work that out. Big tips take chops
 

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When I bought that Berg in 1972 there wasn't much around in the way of mouthpieces and all the heavy players were switching. It cost me $90 which was a fortune - probably a week's wages. Gigs paid between $15 and $25. Although I don't use it much nowadays I'd never sell it - it's part of my history.

An older player showed me how to use chewing gum to make a baffle to make an old stock mouthpiece project and cut through more. So I had some idea how a properly made baffled mouthpiece would play.

I'm currently playing a Lakey but I'm waiting on a Barone Hollywood which Phil is sending tomorrow. I plead guilty to setting Edwin on the slippery slope to mouthpiece hell, but someone had to do it!
 

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100/0 is only a medium tip opening on tenor. You will find the 0 chamber gives a very clear and focussed sound, and very easy for high notes. Low notes can be a bit dry though. I prefer the 2 chamber myself for a more balanced, rounded sound. But everyone is different.
 

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"...I plead guilty to setting Edwin on the slippery slope to mouthpiece hell, but someone had to do it..."

Dont worry Pat. I think Edwin was on his way !!
 

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The best way to experiment with mouthpieces is to look for them second hand on the Marketplace here, or on Ebay. That way if they don't work out for you, then you can flip them for the same value. Just be sure to insist upon pictures and avoid refaced/altered/repaired mouthpieces, as you may have more trouble unloading them should they not work out. You can also trade mouthpieces here that you may own and no longer use. Yes, it can take time, but you won't go broke doing it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The best way to experiment with mouthpieces is to look for them second hand on the Marketplace here, or on Ebay. That way if they don't work out for you, then you can flip them for the same value. Just be sure to insist upon pictures and avoid refaced/altered/repaired mouthpieces, as you may have more trouble unloading them should they not work out. You can also trade mouthpieces here that you may own and no longer use. Yes, it can take time, but you won't go broke doing it.
That makes sense, thanks for the advice Grumps. Remains to be seen whether I'll have the discipline and self-control to use this approach (past behaviour suggests the answer may be 'no') but since a mouthpiece is easy to mail there aren't any other barriers to doing it really.

Jonnieboy, the Meyer is hard rubber and the Berg is metal.
 

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Not to alarm you but your Berg could have a facing issue making the low notes difficult. Is there a more experience player who can try your mouthpiece?

I find a Berg Larsen to play better with other reeds such as LaVoz or Rico Royal rather than a Gonzalez.
 

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I have had the best luck with Java's on my Berg... I play on a 110/0 with a 2.5 and it is just a kick to play; sounds great from top to bottom. I actually find I like my lower notes better with this piece, nice and full with just a little edge.

I have to wonder if there isn't a leak in the OP's horn in the lower stack.. I have noticed that my MP's with larger tips are a little less forgiving to such things...
 

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100/0 is only a medium tip opening on tenor. You will find the 0 chamber gives a very clear and focussed sound, and very easy for high notes. Low notes can be a bit dry though. I prefer the 2 chamber myself for a more balanced, rounded sound. But everyone is different.
Right. Of course it will still be a huge change in tip opening coming from a Meyer 5, which is a small opening on tenor. And, imo, a 0 baffle (the highest) requires a still larger tip opening to avoid a sound that is too shrill. Or, as you say, go to the lower '2' baffle.

edwin, you are experiencing a totally different mpc design.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Not to alarm you but your Berg could have a facing issue making the low notes difficult. Is there a more experience player who can try your mouthpiece?

I find a Berg Larsen to play better with other reeds such as LaVoz or Rico Royal rather than a Gonzalez.
I've borrowed the Berg from a much more experienced player - patmiller. He reckons it's fine!

Thanks for the suggestion, Sand3853, but the horn has been checked by an excellent tech quite recently and no leaks - unfortunately, the fault lies not in our stars but in ourselves, or in this case not in the mouthpiece but in myself.

JL - yes, I'm starting to appreciate that point (re how different this thing is).

But... the truth is I think it's a bit much for me at this stage. I had been thinking that working with this piece for a few weeks would build up my chops fast and that maybe I'll be able to handle it (or something like it) before all that long. But I've started squeaking, not just on the Berg but on my Meyer, something I haven't done at all, really, for ages. I suspect I am starting to bite.

I think probably the sensible thing would be to stop now, send Patrick his mouthpiece back with many thanks for the illuminating experience, and go looking for something in between the Meyer and the Berg.

When I say "sensible" I am of course aware that quite a different adjective could be applied to this plan.
 

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I think probably the sensible thing would be to stop now, send Patrick his mouthpiece back with many thanks for the illuminating experience, and go looking for something in between the Meyer and the Berg.
+1!!!

Look for something with a medium or large chamber with a rollover baffle and a moderate tip. This is the type of set up I recommend for all of my younger/less experienced students looking for a good jazz piece.

A Jody Jazz HR* in a 5* or 6* might be a good place to start, although there are many good options.
 

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Have a spare rpc I could lend you for a bit. Have to check if its a 105 or a 115.
Also have a link hr 8 (or is it 8*) I 'm not using.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks atonal and al9672 ...patmiller sent me a Link which I have only tried once so far, need to spend more time on it. Don't know anything about the RPC but if a 115 I think it will be too much for me. Even 105 might be pushing it I think, given that the Berg at 100 was too much for my fairly wimpy chops.
 

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A .115 takes some serious chops to be able to articulate well. Dont fall into the mindset that you need a large tip mouthpiece. What you need is style and that isnt measured by micrometers.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
A .115 takes some serious chops to be able to articulate well. Dont fall into the mindset that you need a large tip mouthpiece. What you need is style and that isnt measured by micrometers.
Thanks - this makes sense and confirms the way I'd been thinking after trying a couple of wider tips and struggling with them.
 
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